Tuesday, 10 November 2015

New planning application submitted for lakeside site in Theale

An outline planning application for a residential development of 325 houses and apartments (including 70 extra-care units) has been submitted for the Lakeside site in Theale. The application number is 15/02842/OUTMAJ. The planning documents can be accessed by clicking here

The following map shows the location of the site (shaded black):

The proposal is for:
  • 91 3-bedroom houses
  • 38 4 or more bedroom houses
  • 16 1-bedroom flats
  • 110 2-bedroom flats
  • 29 1-bedroom "cluster flats"
  • 41 2-bedroom "cluster flats"

"Cluster flats" are flats that share a kitchen or common room. I suspect that the 70 "cluster flats" make up the extra-care sheltered housing.

Access to the site is proposed to be by both the existing (closed off) access off The Green and from the end of St Ives Close.

The southern part of the site already has planning permission for 350 homes, including 5-storey blocks of flats.

A special meeting of Theale Parish Council will be held on 30th November to decide on objections to the application. The meeting will start at 7:30pm and will be held at:

    The Peter Gooch Room
    The Pavilion
    Englefield Road

Although the application says "matters to be considered - access", many details are supplied that will set the scene for detailed applications. These details need to be taken into account now if you are considering any objections.

You can comment on the application on the Public Accesssystem or send them to mailto:planapps@westberks.gov.uk

West Berkshire‬ Housing Site Allocations DPD, including the sites in Theale approved for submission

The West Berkshire‬ Housing Site Allocations Development Plan Document was approved for submission at a special West Berkshire Council meeting on November 5th. The DPD allocates sites around the district for building homes and included these two sites in Theale:

THE003: 15 homes (reduced from 50 in the "preferred options" version of the DPD)

THE009: 70 homes (reduced from 125 in the "preferred options" version of the DPD)

I tried to table an amendment to exclude site THE009 (70 homes) in Theale, among others in Thatcham and Newbury, but this was ruled out of order. Council officers claimed that my amendment would negate the motion to approve the DPD. I disputed that removing four sites out of a total of 29 negated the motion but had to accept the Chairman's ruling. I then spoke against these sites in my speech on the main motion.
The DPD has now gone out to formal consultation, which will close on 21st December. It is important for as many of you as possible to respond to the consultation. These responses, along with the ones submitted to the preferred options DPD last summer, will go to the planning inspector who has to approve the DPD before it can be adopted. Things have changed since the preferred options stage. It is important to comment on those changes and to support the rejection of the old Theale sewage works site, land at M4 J12, and Pincents Hill - the landowners/developers will be likely to try to get them put back in.

You can read the DPD and associated documents by clicking here. You can take part in the consultation on that site or by emailing your comments to planningpolicy@westberks.gov.uk

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Latest News on Housing Sites Proposed for Theale

West Berkshire Council consulted on proposed sites for new housing in the district last summer. These were called "preferred options" and were included in a document called the "Housing Site Allocations Development Plan Document" (DPD). Those preferred options included four sites around Theale:

THE001 Former sewage works in Blossom Lane - 88 homes
THE003 North Lakeside - 50 homes
THE005 Land at Junction12 (between J12 and Theale) 50 homes
THE009 Field between A340 and The Green - 125 homes

The Council has now looked again at all the sites throughout the district as a result of the consultation and has produced a new version of the DPD as a result. The Council has removed some sites altogether and has changed the number of homes proposed for many sites. It has also put in sites previously rejected (though not in Theale).

In response to consultation comments made by residents, Theale Parish Council and me, the following two sites in Theale have now been rejected:

THE001 Former sewage works in Blossom Lane - 88 homes
THE005 Land at Junction12 (between J12 and Theale) - 50 homes

Also, the number of homes proposed for the remaining two sites in Theale have been reduced significantly:

THE003 North Lakeside - now 15 homes
THE009 Field between A340 and The Green - now 70 homes

These sites are shown on the map below.

So, whereas Theale was threatened with a total of 313 new homes, 85 are now proposed. However, some people who who live in The Green face the prospect of new housing sites both in front and behind them.

There is a strong possibility that a new planning application will shortly be submitted for the two Lakeside sites (between The Green and the bypass). If this is approved then it is likely to include the 15 homes proposed for North Lakeside (THE003).

The DPD is due to be approved by a special meeting of West Berkshire Council at 7pm on November 5th at St Bartholomews School in Newbury. Residents will be able to attend the meeting but will not be able to speak. The meeting will also be webcast on the Council's Youtube Channel

Assuming it is approved, this final version of the DPD will go out to consultation between 9th November and 21st December and then submitted to the Secretary of State. It will then be subject to an independent examination. It is likely to be adopted in about a year's time.

Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Housing study finds that 665 new homes need to be built in ‎West Berks ‬each year.

The study, a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), looked at future needs across the whole of Berkshire and established the number of homes a year that will need to be built between now and 2036. It also proposed how those should be split across the six Berkshire councils.
The study was produced by the six Berkshire local authorities and the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership and is intended to help shape local discussions about how many houses should be built and where. The study also looked at the need for affordable housing and what housing is needed for specific groups such as older people and communities. All the information collated will help West Berkshire Council prepare a new Local Plan.

The Assessment can be access by clicking here.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

More delays to the building of the lifts and new footbridge at Theale station.

It has now been decided that the project to build a new footbridge and lifts will be carried out by Network Rail rather than Great Western Railway (First Great Western as was). This is because Network Rail will be carrying out a lot of other work at the station in connection with the electrification and new trains. This work will include extending the platforms.

Unfortunately, Network Rail will be re-tendering the project because of the length of time since the last tenders were received. Network Rail are hoping to have finished the re-tendering by mid March and to start work soon after that.

We are trying to schedule a meeting with Network rail and GWR next month to discuss the situation.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Wrote letter to ‪Reading Chronicle in response to letter from a man who doesn't "give a fig" about the environment

Dear Editor,
Mr. Eoin may not “give a fig” about the environment (Chronicle letters 8th Oct) but I hope that he cares about the air we breathe.
Government figures show that nitrogen dioxide, the pollutant subject to VW’s defeat device, contributes to 23,500 deaths per year in Britain. Particulates, the oily soot produced by diesels, contributes to another 29,000 deaths. These account for almost one in ten of all deaths in the UK.
We all live in, and affect, “the environment”. Everything that we do to it affects everyone.
Alan Macro

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Tree work on Theale bypass embankment.

I have received several complaints from residents about the tree work that has been carried out on this embankment, behind Cavalier Close and Mulberry Way, over the last few days:

I passed these complaints on to West Berkshire Council's grounds maintenance manager. He had one of his officers visit the site and speak to the tree surgeon on Monday.

They have agreed to pollard affected willow trees to six metres above ground level, rather than two to three metres, from now on. This pollarding will still look drastic, but the willows will re-grow quickly (like the ones at the end of Cavalier Close and opposite the library did). 

I have received a copy of a tree condition report that was carried out last autumn. This specified different treatment for different groups of trees, and individual trees, depending on their condition and location. Some willows are specified to be coppiced (cut down, but leaving a stump to form a base for re-growth). Again, these should re-generate quickly. Trees growing between the noise fence and the bypass, growing within a metre of the fences or in the ditch are specified to be felled. There are also several trees that are to be felled because they are dead (including some elms) or are leaning.